Many people know SEO to varying degrees.
Many people know how to build and run an eCommerce store to varying degrees.
But how many people can do both? Effectively?
With so much advice and so many things to do, where do you start? There are many tasks that can drastically improve your SEO, but today I wanted to share what I believe is the absolute best eCommerce SEO tip that will improve your SEO rank, engage your visitors and lift your conversions.
So what is it?
Write Amazing, High Quality Product Page Content
If you think you’ve heard this before, try to understand what I mean by amazing – by reading a bit further.
There’s a why and an ever-important how that will make the what make sense.
Before we get into the HOW, let’s quickly discuss the why, and how it really connects to SEO and Google.
In today’s SEO world where the Google Rank Brain machine learning algo is constantly improving user experience, it is uber important to write compelling content that keeps users engaged. Why? Long clicks, (visits that stay on site for a long time after leaving the SERP) and Length of Content are Google ranking factors.
And let’s be honest, even when Google didn’t give merit to some of these factors before Rank Brain, long clicks, often known to webmasters by analyzing time on page, has always been a conversion factor. Think about it: if you keep people on your page longer, you are more likely to convert these engaged visitors.
There have been tests for the last couple years now (by MOZ and others) that show SEO rankings increase by people coming to your site and hanging around. In other words, if they land there and bounce, Google drops that page for the terms they searched due to users not finding relevance and/or quality when they arrive.
High quality content engages visitors and improves SEO in so many ways.
In fact, about 1/2 of the top 20 (of 200) Google Ranking Factors are related to Content and on-page SEO.
High Quality SEO Content
I have always been a strong advocate for high quality content. But let’s be honest. It is time consuming. It takes a lot of time to write content for your website. There are quality freelancers out there. On Upwork, Freelancer.com and others. But once you find a good writer, keep them around for awhile. They are hard to come by.
My friend Aaron Orendorff over at Iconicontent uses the tag line “Saving the world from bad content.” And he means it. He is not a run of the mill copywriter. Aaron has been writing amazing stuff since way before I met him a few years ago.
He not only knows how to write awesome content, but he knows how to weave the content into SEO funnels that drive more customers through your funnel to your product or service.
High quality content is what makes great blogs. An eCommerce website that leverages blogs the right way can create awesome content to drive quality leads into your funnel.
But as an eCommerce owner/manager you have an opportunity to showcase your product with content that is the very closest to your money pages. The product page IS the money page.
If you drive customers from that HQ blog post to your product page, and your product pages look like your driver’s license – one image and some numbers and a couple of words – then you lose. Unless your driver’s license is compelling for other reasons.
So, blog content, yes. But writing content closer to your products is where the magic happens. Since optimizing the content on your money pages can improve your search rankings for high-intent buy keywords, and grow your revenue… can you see why this is my favorite eCommerce SEO tip?
How Does a Compelling Product Description Look?
So how do you truly optimize and upgrade your product descriptions?
In simple terms, you think outside of the box. Get creative. Think from the customer’s point of view. What features makes your customers go, hm? What makes your product special?
If you are selling a product from a manufacturer, then sure, start with the manufacturer description as a bare bones template. But copy-edit it. Iterate. Be creative. Stand out from all the other guys who are carrying the same stuff. I know what you’re thinking. How do you describe a pair of cotton socks? (worst case right?)
Even if you don’t think your product is special, how can you tell a fascinating story and engage your customers to want to buy?
C’mon. Haven’t you heard of The J. Peterman Company? If so – great! You get 1000 points.
If not, then how about Seinfeld? If you haven’t heard of Seinfeld, you can stop reading this right now. You live in a box. Or you are so busy growing your business, that you don’t watch TV, which is acceptable I suppose.
Remember Elaine’s boss? J. Peterman.
J. Peterman was the eccentric owner of a catalog sales company, who was portrayed by John O’Hurley. The Seinfeld character was based on the real J. Peterman, who owns the J. Peterman Company, which is an actual retail clothing company.
Yes, they are a catalog clothing company, but they also have a web storefront.
Those who know the J. Peterman story, know where I am going. Let’s contrast a J. Peterman product description with another popular brand.
Let’s start by looking at the Sunglass Hut first. Here is their product description for a pair of their Aviator glasses:
One of the most iconic styles in the world, the original Ray-Ban metal Aviator ™ has been reinvented with new mirrored flash lenses. Ray-Ban is known for exceptional quality, performance, and comfort. And the extra pop of color will ensure you never go unnoticed!
Sure, that’s nice. Sunglass Hut is a great brand. They have been around for awhile. And their site is well optimized. All in all, they have nice product pages. But there is much room for improvement.
Now let’s look at a product description for a pair of J. Peterman – Fort Knox aviators (from my 1991 J. Peterman Owner’s Manual No. 14 – which was also featured on their website):
For combat pilots, there are moments when distance and depth-of-field judgments, undistorted color-value relationships, UV (a & b) and infrared infiltration, glare and haze suppression, and other factors, can be a matter of life and death.
Strolling along Rodeo Drive in your $250 “designer” sunglasses, these factors are not, perhaps, a matter of life and death.
Good thing they’re not. Disturbing instances of expensive, supposedly reputable sunglasses failing to adequately filter harmful UV radiation are not rare; nor the converse; $5 sunglasses that test far better than the $250 kind. The problem is, how do you know which is which?
You don’t. That’s what we like about these; they meet all 26 pages of specifications for U.S. Military use by pilots. They are made by Randolph Engineering, who supplies the U.S. Air Force. They don’t cost $250, or $125, or $75. They cost $48. You can buy them from us, or at the PX at Fort Knox. either way, you can stop worrying. You’ve got the best.
But that’s not all. They finished with a note at the bottom of the page:
Operation Desert Storm.
A Wall Street Journal report on sophisticated dark glasses issued to pilots of Stealth bombers in the Persian Gulf provoked a million phone calls; where can civilians buy a pair, people wanted to know.
Callers were referred to Randolph Engineering, the manufacturer, who said they did know of a place; The J. Peterman Co.
The J. Peterman description reads more like story than a boring product description?
Here is another one to give you a better visual:
Now – before you go and try to build all your product descriptions out like J. Peterman you need to keep some things in mind. J. Peterman wasn’t trying to SEO optimize their product pages. They were building a brand.
But I used this example to show how you could write longer, unique content that is engaging. If you can do it while running an SEO filter, you would have a winning combination.
Sunglass Hut has brand recognition.
But if you ever wondered how to compete with Brand X, a more known brand, now you know one important component.
Answer: Upgrade your Product Descriptions. Engage your users with high quality content.
Even the big brands have room for improvement. Capitalize on that.
What Else to Consider When Upgrading Your Product Pages
If you are wondering how many words you should write, there have been industry studies about this. And in the on-page SEO section of this awesome Ecommerce SEO Guide by Brian Dean, he says you should write 1000+ word product descriptions. Wha??
His exact words are, “The fact is this: Google wants to understand what your page is all about. And the more content you provide, the better Google can do it’s job. Plus, when you publish long content, customers can better understand what they’re about to buy.
It might be impossible for you to write 1000 words for EVERY page on your site. If that’s the case, I recommend writing long, in-depth descriptions for your 50-100 top-priority product and category pages.”
And that’s the key. You don’t have to get overwhelmed if you have 60,000 products. Prioritize your category and product pages, and write long, compelling product descriptions for the top 50 first. Then go from there.
You can use SEO tools like Ahrefs. Click on the ‘organic keywords’ link in the left panel, and figure out which of your product pages already rank but need a boost. Make a list and start with those.
You can also use Sales data to help prioritize pages to start with. Cross reference your sales numbers to top ranking landing pages in Google Analytics or Ahrefs. Those pages that aren’t ranked in the top couple positions of Google, but are driving sales – are a good place to optimize. I call those low hanging fruit.
Brian Dean also points out that you should use your target keyword 3-5 times in your product pages. Then use LSI (latent semantic indexing) keywords or synonyms throughout.
I agree with him. But I also think you should just write the description creatively first. Once you have a good first draft, scan it and make sure you have some keywords in it. If not, then sprinkle in some keywords.
But I prefer writing more naturally without worrying about the keywords. You describe the product in the most compelling way you can. Usually your keywords will naturally show up.
If you want to get more in depth with eCommerce SEO, you can spend countless hours just researching all the things you can do and how to implement the changes.
In my 14 years of eCommerce and SEO experience, I have seen SEO agencies work on technical factors for 6 months before ever building backlinks or content. It is constantly the reason why people are turned off by experiences they have with ‘experts’.
I know a great upmarket SEO agency – Propecta, founded by Nate Dame – that mostly works with Fortune 500 clients. They have an 80/20 rule that I agree with wholeheartedly.
It basically says that they work on 20% Technical SEO and 80% Engagement SEO, because engagement SEO is the effective content based part of their framework that aligns with how Google serves users. Their reasoning is that Google’s #1 goal is an amazing user experience. Which is the entire reason that Rank Brain was born.
That – my eCommerce friend – is why writing amazing, high quality product page content is my #1 eCommerce SEO tip.
Bryan Robinson is the founder and SEO Director of Bryan E. Robinson Consulting. Bryan has over 14 years experience in eCommerce & SEO. Bryan has worked with mid-market to Fortune 100 businesses.